Alere Inc. (NYSE: ALR), a global leader in rapid diagnostics, today announced a grant of 2.5 million South African Rand to support the work of the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation (DTHF), a Cape Town-based organization under the patronage of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. The Foundation is a leader in HIV and TB research; community development and support are integral to its research endeavors. The grant will support the Foundation's Tutu Teen Truck project and expand the reach of infectious, sexual and reproductive services for youth and adolescents from communities around Cape Town.
The Tutu Teen Truck is the second vehicle in the Tutu Tester mobile services fleet. It is a self-sufficient mobile healthcare unit equipped with two counseling rooms and a dispensing cubicle. The vehicle will be used to provide counseling and healthcare services to youth around Cape Town's under-served communities. In addition to HIV, TB and STI screening, a wellness package known as HCT PLUS will include diabetes, hypertension, obesity, cervical, breast and testicular cancer screening. Comprehensive health advice will also be provided and referral to care and treatment when necessary.
"South Africa is estimated to have more people infected with HIV than any other county, and it has one of the highest incidences of tuberculosis worldwide," said Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Patron of the HIV Foundation. "I commend Alere for responding to this challenge through their support for the Tutu Teen Truck project. The Tutu Teen Truck will be able to reach you in under-serviced areas, providing easy access to screening for a variety of infectious and chronic diseases and will move us closer to achieving the UNAIDS goal to eliminate HIV by 2030."
"Youth and other key populations have been telling us for years that they find it difficult to access health services in our traditional health facilities. If we are really serious about making a difference to adolescent and youth rates of TB, STI, HIV and unwanted teenage pregnancy then we are going to have to think outside of the box. The Tutu Teen Truck, which is 'health on wheels,' is our response to this problem," said Linda-Gail Bekker, Chief Operating Officer, Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation. "Alere's support allows us to test our hypothesis that this proven program, when repackaged as a youth friendly and funky convenient service – that youth will come and will be in a position to adopt healthy life choices."
The Alere grant will equip the vehicle with rapid point-of-care technology spanning the entire continuum of care for HIV, TB and STI testing and monitoring, as well as tests and screens for common chronic illnesses, reducing the stigma of testing. The grant will also cover costs of hiring a full team, led by a dedicated nurse practitioner, who will bring healthcare directly to communities.
"The Tutu Teen Truck is a truly innovative approach to bringing comprehensive health services directly to at-risk populations. Without access to such a service, many people would go untreated for long periods, potentially infecting others," said Marc Matthews, President, Alere South Africa. "We are pleased to partner with the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation in its efforts to bring interventions targeted to young South Africans living in disadvantaged communities."